Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn paused during election day to publish a new poem by award-winning poet and Old Elizabethan, Anthony Anaxagorou.
Mr Corbyn tweeted a video of Anthony reading aloud the polemical piece, which was commissioned by Labour (see below to read it). The party last night confou nded initial expectations by depriving the Conservatives of their overall majority. He praised the 186-word poem and urged voters to get out to the polling stations: “Powerful words from the poet @Anthony1983 [Anthony Anaxagorou]. Vote before 10pm.”
It is another QE connection for the Labour leader, whose own son, Benjamin, attended the School from 1998 to 2000, albeit against Mr Corbyn’s wishes.
Anthony (OE 1994-1999), whose tweets urged people to vote Labour, was filmed delivering the poem against a red background including the Labour slogan, For the Many, Not the Few.
A rising star of the literary world, Anthony is a poet, publisher and educator, who won the 2015 Groucho Maverick Award, which is given to those who have broken the mould and made a significant contribution to culture and the arts. He recently led a six-week workshop for QE’s Year 9 and 10 pupils as the School’s poet-in-residence.
Last month, in an interview in the Independent, journalist Mattha Busby wrote: “You may not have heard of Anthony Anaxagorou yet, but the wordsmith taking on the establishment is one you’ll want to know.”
Busby highlighted Out-Spoken Press, the poetry press founded by Anthony. “Anaxagorou, like many BAME [Black and Minority Ethnic] poets, didn’t feel like the traditional publishing houses represented the people who looked like him and the kind of poetry he was writing,&rdqu o; Busby wrote.
He interviewed the poet just after Anthony had emerged victorious in a debate at the Oxford Union, where he was speaking against the motion that Kanye West is more relevant than Shakespeare.
The interview recounted how Anthony first wrote a book when he became unemployed. Entitled Difficult Place to be Human, its sales far exceeded expectations, selling 8,000 copies – an impressive figure for a largely unknown poet.
The article recounts his successes as a live performer and his work to establish Out-Spoken Live, as a platform for emerging poets.
Anthony also explained why he had taken a decade-long break from writing soon after winning the inaugural Mayor’s Young Poet award in 2003 – a sensitive teenager, he had been upset when the host of a poetry night in Hampstead made a disparaging remark to him.
Today, Anthony not only manages Out-Spoken and runs school workshops, he is also the father of a two-year-old boy, speaks at universities as a guest lecturer and appears on panels discussing issues such as the under-representation of BAME writers in traditional publishing.
Anthony’s poem for Labour:
Food bank queues bloated with ghostly nurses,
Brilliant scholars of tomorrow
Who can’t afford the charge of learning,
Bleak conditions where broken workers
Clutch misery in their hands
Contracted to remain inside a repeating zero.
They waged war on wheelchairs and the weak,
Harming those already harmed,
Cutting those already bleeding,
Secondary school children with bellies empty
As a brownfield site,
Corporate greed wishes to privatise
The last section of sky,
A minimum wage set by a group of suits
Who’ve always had enough,
Now we have had enough,
Awake and electric, we will vote with our lives,
With the plight of others in mind,
As sure as the echo that follows sound,
There will be no more forgetting,
No more ignoring the hand we hold out
Where a vote is not just an x in a box,
It’s a scream, a fist, a march, a cry,
Mark it with life and progress,
Mark it red,
As the blood that drums against our veins
Mark it red,
As vacant phone boxes and city bricks,
Mark it red,
As the colours of a sunrise,
We’ll never forget.
- To see Anthony reading it, scroll through Jeremy Corbyn’s twitter feed for 8th June 2017 – https://twitter.com/jeremycorbyn